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AG Derek Schmidt to FCC: Help state attorneys general trace illegal robocalls to their source

Release Date: Jun 04, 2020

TOPEKA – (June 4, 2020) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should facilitate continued collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies to coordinate tracing back illegal robocalls to their source, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today in a comment letter to the agency.

“In passing the TRACED Act, Congress took an important step toward putting up more-effective technological roadblocks against scammers, as well as better enabling law enforcement authorities to find the robocallers and hold them accountable,” Schmidt said. “Tracing illegal robocalls back to their source is critical to law enforcement’s ability to hold robocallers accountable, so we appreciate the FCC working diligently with the states and getting these traceback tools in place.”

Under the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, a new federal anti-robocall law enacted in December 2019, the FCC will select a single registered association to manage the work to trace back illegal robocalls. Because a call can pass through the networks of many telecom companies before reaching its final destination, tracing that call requires collaboration among telecom companies and state attorneys general. In the comment letter, Schmidt and 51 other state and territory attorneys general note that traceback investigations are necessary for law enforcement to more efficiently identify and investigate illegal robocallers and expose voice service providers that assist and facilitate illegal robocallers.

Since 2018, Kansas has been a member of a coalition of states working with the telecom industry to attack the scourge of robocalls in a comprehensive way by implementing common-sense business practices to minimize illegal robocalls and trace these calls back to their source. Many of the TRACED Act provisions codify in federal law measures previously agreed by major telecommunications companies and the attorneys general.

Traceback investigations are now more urgent than ever, the attorneys general argue, because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.  

The more than 58.5 billion robocalls made in 2019 made them the number one source of consumer complaints to the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in consumer losses.

The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division works to enforce do-not-call laws and protect Kansas consumers from being harassed and scammed by robocalls. Kansans who may have been scammed by a robocall may contact the Consumer Protection Division at (800) 432-2310 or at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.

A copy of the comment letter is available at https://bit.ly/3dzgSs6.

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